Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Andrade is a Favorite Son in Montreal

Librado Andrade, born in Mexico and living in California, has caught on big - in of all places - Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

If 40 is the new 20, then Montreal is the new Las Vegas, at least when it comes to staging big-time boxing events.

This past Saturday saw two live boxing cards staged in the city at separate venues. The afternoon saw former world title challenger and top-ranked contender Jean Pascal fighting on a card that took place at the Montreal Casino.

Later that night, a 140-pound world title unification match between Timothy Bradley and Kendall Holt was staged at the cavernous Bell Centre, which is better known as the home of the National Hockey League’s storied Montreal Canadiens.

While many fighters saw action during the weekend, the fan favorite of the entire boxing festival was undoubtedly super middleweight Librado Andrade. The Mexican native gutted out a hard fought 12-round unanimous decision over the always tough Vitali Tsypko in an IBF super middleweight title eliminator in the main support to the Bradley vs. Holt fight.

The win for Andrade set up a highly anticipated rematch with undefeated IBF titlist Lucian Bute who calls Montreal home. Andrade and Bute waged a crowd pleasing battle in the city back in Oct. 2008. Andrade managed to floor the champion in the waning moments of the 12th and final round and after a somewhat controversial count by referee Marlon Wright, Bute barely hung on to retain his title via unanimous decision.

Based on the entertaining performance against hometown boy Bute, boxing fans in Montreal have fallen in love with the likeable Andrade, now 28-2 (21KO). The resident of La Habra, California is as well liked in Montreal as he is in Mexico or California and he says he loves the Canadians as much as they seem to love him.

Montreal has everything you could want in a city and more. Big-time boxing has recently found a home here and the fans are enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

“It felt great to be back in Montreal,” Andrade said. “It felt great because this time the crowd was on my side.”

In fact, many of the approximately 7,500 fans that showed up for the fights at the Bell Centre were actually heading for the exits before and during the Bradley vs. Holt main event. They had come to see Andrade.

After the decision was announced in his fight against Tsypko, the crowd gave Andrade a rousing ovation and then began chanting “Bute! Bute! Bute!” in an effort to demonstrate they want to see the rematch. Bute, who successfully defended his title in the same ring only three weeks earlier, was seated at ringside with former WBC super middleweight titlist and Quebec native Eric Lucas.

Andrade, promoted by Golden Boy, managed by Al Haymon and trained by Montreal native Howard Grant was overcome with the outpouring of support he received from the Quebec fans.

“I really want to thank my heart out to Canada,” said an appreciative Andrade. “You know, those fans, their warmth, I really want to thank them with all of my heart.”

It appears as though Bute and Andrade will fight each other next and the fight is a natural for Montreal. Organizers at the Bell Centre said on Wednesday they would love to host the rematch and are confident they could fill the venue.

Andrade (left) and Lucian Bute staged a thrilling battle the first time they met. Andrade mounted a late rally but couldn't overcome Bute's lead on the cards.

Andrade says he’s not sure if he will face Bute next or if he may have another fight in the interim. “I do whatever my manager tells me to do,” he said. “If he says Bute is next then that is no problem. If not, then that is no problem either. I’m still working a lot in the gym on some things and I’m learning in progress and maybe I’ll get there eventually. Maybe I’ll get to the level of Bute and take him out of there next time.”

Although Andrade scored a wide unanimous decision against a very determined Tsypko, he revealed a somewhat surprising fact.

“I couldn’t see out of my left eye for the last two rounds of the fight. I was blind in that eye and I couldn’t see a thing - for real,” he said. “I don’t know what happened, whether it was a headbutt or a punch or what it was. If it was a punch it was a good punch. I just knew as long as I stayed close to him he’d be there.”

So how does a fighter that was born in Mexico, is a resident of California and who used to be a sparring partner for Oscar De La Hoya explain that he is practically a Canadian hero?

“I don’t know, I can’t explain it,” says Andrade. “Again, I just want to thank everyone from Canada, they were a lovely crowd and Montreal just has such great people.”

April 2009

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